Shimizu’s exquisite silent drama, set in the modernizing port town of Yokohama, tells of the humiliating social downfall experienced by Sunako (Oikawa Michiko) after jealousy drives her to commit a terrible crime. With its lushly photographed landscapes and innovative visual storytelling, Japanese Girls at the Harbor shows a director at the peak of his powers and experimentation. —The Criterion Collection
Shimizu Hiroshi was born in Shizuoka Prefecture on 28 March, 1903 and died in Kyoto on 23 June, 1966. He dropped out of his studies at Hokkaido University in order to join Shochiku’s Kamata studio as a director’s assistant in 1922. By the age of 21, he had risen to the rank of director with his first film, Toge no kanata (Beyond the Pass, 1924), and proceeded to forge a reputation as a skillful director, particularly of melodramas and comedies. A “trial marriage” to the actress Tanaka Kinuyo in 1927 ended in divorce two years later. Shimizu directed 140 films for Shochiku up to and throughout World War II. After the war he established the Hachinosu Eiga studio in collaboration with several colleagues. This allowed him to work independently of the studios, and films such as Children of the Beehive (1948), where he employed homeless children he had taken in and raised himself, resulted. He also directed films for Shin-Toho and Daiei, the last of which, Haha no… read more
A moving and somewhat melodramatic tale of two young friends whose lives take radically different paths. Dora opts for domesticity, while Sunako (brilliantly played by Oikawa Michiko) sinks into life as a Mizoguchi-style fallen woman. Shimizu Hiroshi's reputation as a visual innovator is on full display here as he employs jump-cuts, dissolves, and surprisingly modern camera movements. All of which may have prompted Ozu to proclaim: "I can't shoot films like Shimizu."